Sergio Perez has been forced to apologise to Susie Wolff after an "unacceptable" joke remark about female Formula 1 drivers.
In an interview with Spanish television station Antenna3, the Sahara Force India Team driver praised Wolff as a "great driver" before being asked whether he would like a woman driver as a team-mate.
"No....they would be better off in the kitchen," he replied, laughing. Cue outrage on Twitter and other social media networks.
On Friday Williams driver Wolff became the first woman in 22 years to take part in a grand prix weekend by driving in first practice ahead of the British Grand Prix.
Saw some comments made by @SChecoPerez as I was making dinner in the kitchen last night... 😂 Please give him a break...— Susie Wolff (@Susie_Wolff) July 5, 2014
His comments were taken completely out of context. Anyway, as my family will tell you, I drive better than I cook! 😉 pic.twitter.com/L73KMVc9GT— Susie Wolff (@Susie_Wolff) July 5, 2014
Unfortunately her outing for Williams was cut short after just four laps on track, only one of which was timed, before an oil pressure problem forced her to pull the car off the circuit.
However Wolff has leapt to the defence of Perez, saying the remark was "taken out of context" and urged people to lay off Perez.
Taking to Twitter herself, and posting a picture of her and Perez with their arms around one another, Wolff said: "Saw some comments made by @SChecoPerez as I was making dinner in the kitchen last night...?? Please give him a break...
"His comments were taken completely out of context. Anyway, as my family will tell you, I drive better than I cook!??"
Perez, meanwhile, has issued an unreserved apology on Twitter and Instagram before releasing a statement on his official website where the 24-year-old conceded his comment, though meant as a joke, was "unacceptable".
He said: "I feel really ashamed by the way my words have been distorted about the opportunity of racing side by side with a woman.
"I want to be absolutely clear that my intention was not to offend anybody, and my comment does not reflect a "macho" posture on my behalf. I recognise that my comment, even though it was intended as a joke, was absolutely out of place and also unacceptable.
"I believe and I am truly convinced in gender equality; there are women in my life that are very important for me and that show me this every day and my admiration for them is incomparable. With Susie Wolff I hold a very close friendship and I admire her greatly for her determination; I wish her the best of luck as a person and as a professional driver.
"Once again I want to thank everybody and I offer this next race in Silverstone to all the women in my life that have been there for me and that follow my career closely."Suggest a correction